Infidelity is certainly one of the factors that can destroy a marriage. It is one of the worst things that can happen to a relationship. The betrayal of a partner in a marriage is one of the most traumatising events that can occur to anyone. It sometimes destroys everything that a couple had built for years, as the case may be. In many cases, love is shattered, trust is broken, families are torn apart, and both spouses and their children bear the pain.
Like many incidents of life, many partners who had been victims to an adulterous affair did not see it coming. It can blindside one and before one knows it, one is already feeling completely helpless. This is because infidelity can feel like a fatal blow, particularly to trust in one’s marriage. In some cases, once a partner engages in extramarital affairs, the idea of a divorce starts to spring up, looking for how to quickly get out of the marriage.
There’s no doubt about it; infidelity affects marriages in the worst way possible. Hence, it is important that you guard marriage against it by all means.
According to marriage counsellors, the following are 10 ways to help a spouse avoid infidelity.
Make choices in the interest of your relationship
According to a US-based marriage counselor, Lesli White, some of the decisions a partner makes in a relationship have the power to make or break the relationship.
If you want to protect your relationship from infidelity, make sure you’re making choices that are in the best interest of your relationship,” she wrote on beliefnet.com.
She added, “This means you’re consciously making the effort to better yourself and save your relationship. If you find yourself in a questionable situation or having thoughts that might take you away from your relationship, you have an important decision to make.
“Hopefully, you will make the conscious choice to stay on track and do what’s best for your relationship. If you don’t, you will find yourself in a heap of trouble time and time again, and before you know it, making a decision that will completely derail your marriage.”
Keep communication open, avoid secrets
White also stated that one of the ways to guard against infidelity was to always communicate with one’s spouse as keeping the communication line closed could create a loophole for infidelity to creep in.
She said, “Make sure you’re openly communicating with your partner. Make sure the space is one where you both feel you are being respected and can openly express your thoughts and feelings. You should let them know whatever’s on your mind regarding yourself, relationship and hopes and dreams for the future. You should also encourage them to do the same.
“It’s also important that you don’t keep secrets from each other. Keeping secrets about even the smallest things makes it easier to keep the big issues quiet too. Keeping secrets of any kind is the first step towards damaging a relationship that used to be strong.
“Clearly identify your unmet needs or concerns to your spouse. If you are feeling like love or romance is missing from your relationship, it’s important that you communicate this with your partner too. If you’re passive or quiet about what you’re feeling, it’s easy to start slipping into ‘I’m going to take care of me’ mode. Remember, marriage is about partnership.”
Set boundaries for each other
White explained that it was imperative that couples discuss their boundaries in marriage. For instance, she said the following important questions should be asked.
She said, “How do you define cheating? Does flirting count as cheating? Are you uncomfortable if your partner is very close with members of the opposite sex? If they spend an extended amount of time talking with that friend, do you trust that it’s only a friendship?
“In order to protect your relationship from infidelity, you should set guidelines for what fidelity in your relationship entails. Make sure you both want fidelity in a relationship. Don’t assume walking into the relationship that your partner is on the same page with you or desires the same thing.”
Spend quality time with your spouse
A Lagos-based psychologist and marriage counsellor, Biodun Oyeniyi, said spending quality time with one’s spouse was one of the ways to prevent infidelity.
He said, “Everyone wants to be loved, wanted and cared for. A couple’s mutual dependence on each other is associated with happy and healthy marriages. The most successful and happy couples are those who bond together.
“I advise couples to spend not just time but quality time together always. Of course, in a city like Lagos, the hectic lifestyle may hamper couples’ ability to have quality time with one another. But that is not an excuse. You should create quality time.
“Making quality time with your partner is imperative and having date nights are a must. They don’t always have to be over-the-top romantic or overly planned trips; just focus on having fun together. Focus on what you love about each other. Focus on trying new things together. Focus on conversation. Focus on getting to know each other in a whole new way. If you find yourself drifting apart emotionally, time to schedule date nights and dive in head first.”
Don’t deliberately touch someone of opposite sex
A clinical therapist and marriage counsellor based in Ontario, Canada, Abe Kass, said one of the ways to prevent infidelity was to avoid deliberately touching a member of the opposite sex.
“Affectionately touching someone of the opposite gender naturally elicits sexual feelings. Once you are excited, it becomes a slippery slope and you have no idea when or if you can stop. That is why it is important never to start,” Kass wrote on gosmartlife.com.
Likewise, White warned to avoid temptation.
Avoid social comparison
One of the ways to fall into the trap of infidelity is to keep comparing one’s partner to another person, or comparing one’s marriage with another marriage. To prevent falling into this trap, US-based psychologist, Dr Zach Carter, cautioned against comparing one’s marriage with another.
“Social media bombards us with lives that are not ours and forces us to compare those with our own. This psychological variable can devastate not only marriages but yourself,” Carter wrote on psychologytoday.com.
“Limit your social/digital media usage time, and consider deleting and even blocking certain individuals you find you compare yourself and/or your marriage with,” he added.
Talk to friends who will hold you accountable
If one has had issues with being faithful to one’s spouse in the past, White advised that one should surround oneself with friends who would hold one accountable and help through.
She said, “These shouldn’t be people who will agree with everything you say just to make you feel better about your actions or encourage you when you’re in a tempting situation.
“These friends will be honest with you, even when you’re in the wrong in a situation with your partner. If you’ve fallen short, you have to accept responsibility for what you did. These friends will encourage you to be honest with yourself.”
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